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The Christmas Gig
December 15, 2010 6:40 AM   Subscribe

(American Big Box Retailer) Target's recent holiday TV spots feature original music from several indie music acts, including Guster, Bishop Allen, and Blackalicious. They've collected the songs from the ads, plus several more, into a free-to-download album. [Direct Download if you're squicky about visting Target's site]

Ok, so maybe you dislike Target but are still seeking Christmas music with a consumerist tinge. You can watch some Hyundai spots featuring Mefi favorites Pomplamoose (previously).

Oh, perhaps you want the MP3s of those holiday tunes? Well, they aren't currently for sale or download, but they are offering a mini Christmas album to anyone who donates to The Richmond Book Drive this year. All you have to do is order some books off an Amazon wishlist, and you'll get a link to the free album.
posted by snapped (38 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can we also discuss their holiday spots featuring the ridiculously awesome Maria Bamford? Target's ad campaigns are actually pretty enjoyable.

Also: showing off cynical aversion to marketing, "pepsi blue", "guster is indie???" etc etc...ok someone already said it so it's been nipped in the bud, sorry.
posted by windbox at 6:51 AM on December 15, 2010


Blackalicious is indie???
posted by FatherDagon at 6:55 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you, really enjoying the Blackalicious tune, takes me back to the late 80s.
posted by Dragonness at 6:59 AM on December 15, 2010


Bands cease being indie when you can find them on YouTube. One of my (old, old, old) favorites (before I converted to agnosticism) went mainstream three years ago.
posted by The Confessor at 7:02 AM on December 15, 2010


I really struggled with the wording of the first sentence, and I immediately regret using the word "indie." Sorry, windbox.
posted by snapped at 7:03 AM on December 15, 2010


I could watch the Blackalicious tv spot over and over. It makes me smile.
posted by jourman2 at 7:04 AM on December 15, 2010


Did you know that the dudes in Bishop Allen used to be in a completely awesome punk band? It is true! I discovered this when a friend of mine bought Bishop Allen's first album, Charm School. In the liner notes, it said something about how they may have previously been in a band with lyrics such as "CARS ARE POOPY EXCREMENT WHILE BIKES ARE B-M-X-CELLENT"

I read that, and then e-mailed Christian Rudder: "I recall those lyrics from 1997, when I saw a punk band in New Hampshire called The Pissed Officers. Was that you guys?" And then like five mintes later he e-mailed back to be like, "HOLY CRAP YOU'RE THE FIRST PERSON TO MAKE THAT CONNECTION" and oh I sure did feel very proud of myself!

They had a split 10" with Gerty Farish, it was wicked great.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:05 AM on December 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Awesome! My kids totally rock out to "Electronic Santa" whenever that spot comes on and there are few things in life that give me more pleasure than watching small children earnestly attempting to do "The Robot." Thanks!
posted by jrossi4r at 7:12 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bands cease being indie when you can find them on YouTube.

Good to know the new rule. I guess I'll never understand the wonders of the indie music scene without being privy to the underground live music scene, because I don't like to leave my home.

But, seriously, television commercials move music way more effectively than the music industry; whereas the Labels still solely shill their Big Acts, commercials take their time to find catchy fun tunes, by (relatively) unknown bands, thereby introducing good new musicians to the masses.

This is mostly because the advertising agencies that make these commercials are filled with a bunch of hipsters.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:18 AM on December 15, 2010


Bands cease being indie when you can find them on YouTube.

Bands cease being indie as soon as you hear about them.

I was in a band that was so indie that the other band members hadn't even heard of us. Our shows were so exclusive we weren't even allowed to get in and play. We had an album that was so underground that, due to subliminal messaging, it actually wasn't even POSSIBLE to tell your friends about it. We split up after we were accused of selling out, due to the bassist accidentally humming four consecutive notes of the b-side single in public while shopping at the mall. No, I won't tell you the band's name - you haven't heard of us, and we like it that way.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:49 AM on December 15, 2010 [14 favorites]


Bands cease being indie when they have a gig outside Indianapolis.

What?
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:03 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whats up with Vampire Weekend's Holiday appearing in two separate ads this year? Tommy Hilfiger and a car company - Hyundai? I thought that was weird. Also sick of the song already...
posted by SirOmega at 8:21 AM on December 15, 2010


I thought you stopped being indie when you sign to a major label and stopped releasing your music independently. Also Blackalicious is awesome and Melodica is still in my top 5 hip hop albums of all time
posted by Hoopo at 8:21 AM on December 15, 2010


Music on commercials earns bands a LOT of money. Tindersticks were once offered Pepsi and almost took it - Stuart Staples said that if he'd known the money they'd get they'd have taken the deal.

"How does it feel/When you're drinking in the sun? Something something/Sunkist is the one/How does it feel/When you're drinking in the sun/All you've got to believe/Is Sunkist is the one." I didn't write them. We got offered £100,000 to do it. I kept laughing when I was singing it, so Hooky [Peter Hook, New Order bassist] got a piece of card and wrote "£100,000" on it, held it up, and I sang it perfectly. But then Rob Gretton [New Order's late manager] turned up and he put the kibosh on it. There's a remix of Blue Monday by Steve "Silk" Hurley and it's got the Sunkist lyrics on it.

I'd rather a band was on a commercial than not be able to afford to record more music. And I say this as someone who lives in a country where an Aphex Twin acoustic cover soundtracks a baby formula ad, or Langhorne Slim soundtracks a happy dog eating dogfood. Or, come on now, Chloe Poems appearing on ads doing anything (though for the life of me I can't remember who it was for and I'd love to see it again - think s/he read 'When I Am Old I Shall Wear Purple'.) It makes the bits between the programmes nicer.
posted by mippy at 9:29 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Didn't Gap do this a few years ago, or was that just in the UK? I do remember hearing Low and Luscious Jackson (were they big over there? They had one No 31 single here) on their ads a few years back.
posted by mippy at 9:41 AM on December 15, 2010


I didn't realize that the couple in the Hyundai commercials were a pre-existing act, I just figured that the ad agency was trying to tap into the youth demographic using hipster stereotypes.
posted by octothorpe at 9:51 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whats up with Vampire Weekend's Holiday appearing in two separate ads this year?

They want more $$$$ than one ad would bring in?
posted by blucevalo at 10:00 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oooo. Guster. Delicious. Thanks for this post.

what? it's not a secret around here that I like Guster...
posted by hippybear at 10:11 AM on December 15, 2010


I'd rather a band was on a commercial than not be able to afford to record more music.

rather see them take a day job, save up their money, at which time they can make more music detailing the quiet desperation of the common man in America. Fuck corporate money, fuck Ticketmaster and fuck the hipster generation who gave up and decided sucking on corporate cock can be rationalized in such a way.
posted by any major dude at 11:15 AM on December 15, 2010


So, you would rather them be poor and not accomplish their dreams of getting their music out than being able to? You know, I respect musicians who are trying to change the world, who don't accept money for their work, and who eschew traditional modes of desemination. However, at no point can I fault a band for saying 'yes' to getting their work out. To fault them for that is to fault those son-of-a-bitch famers who sell to General Mills instead of only selling their product to local processors and distributors.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:35 AM on December 15, 2010


Yay... Bishop Allen!
posted by ph00dz at 11:36 AM on December 15, 2010


Bands cease being indie when you can find them on YouTube.

Does this mean my cat is no longer indie? I knew he was a sell-out!
posted by wildcrdj at 11:47 AM on December 15, 2010


My favorite is the Wavves + Best Coast track. They're an adorable stoner couple on twitter, and their styles really complement each other.

128k mp3s, though? C'mon Target, you could've at least sprung for 192.
posted by sleeping bear at 12:15 PM on December 15, 2010


Going to have to try this and see if it's Christmas music I can stand or whether I'm too much of a grinch to enjoy hipster Christmas.
posted by immlass at 12:25 PM on December 15, 2010


Lord Chancellor, it really depends on what you believe the role of the artist in society entails. If you think they exist to merely entertain then you can easily rationalize corporate benefactors; but if you believe artist exists to hold a mirror up to society to reveal the truth then how can you justify them taking money to shill for corporations that sponsor anti-gay right wing politicians.
posted by any major dude at 12:26 PM on December 15, 2010


That's a high bar to consider someone an artist. Does that mean all artists must be social progressives, and activists at that? As much as I respect scientists, I don't consider them working at Bell Labs invalidating their science. Or professors being employed to lecture. Or a doctor being employed by a hospital as opposed to running a clinic out of his house. Certainly these other professions have the benefit of official boards that create standards and we do want them to be moral in the employment decisions, but a scientist working at Wayne Enterprises is still a scientist.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:14 PM on December 15, 2010


LC, people have to decide for themselves if they want their artists to feed the progressive or status quo - history has proven corporations to be the enemy of progress so it saddens me when I see artists so desperate to get their message out that they have to rely on corporate sponsorship. The more they rely on them the more they will slowly conform their message to fit the mold that the corporation wants to hear. It's just serves to marginalize even further the artist who refuses to conform.
posted by any major dude at 3:08 PM on December 15, 2010


Then what would you say about pretty much every author who has either not self-published or used 'zines as their mode of dissemination? Was Hunter S. Thompson selling out when Random House published Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Was he marginalizing all nonconforming artists that would never use a corporation like Random House to get their word out? If we use your standards, there is very little in the way of legitimate art and artists. I suppose we could go back to artists needing patrons . . . but having some rich guy sponsor you so you can pay the bills seems just as much as an "enemy of progress" as a corporation.

And plus, some artists might actually be okay with a company or a product using their material. Hell, some of them might actually use products like computers, clothes, food, and vehicles.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:22 PM on December 15, 2010


On the subject of songs in commercials, I recall not long ago an ad for some kind of japanese sedan starring computer animated mice rocking out to Black Sheep's "This or That". A friend of mine linked to it on Facebook, and all my old friends and acquaintances from high school were leaving comments about how it was so awesome, this song is the best, yadda yadda. I got a lot of flack for pointing out the day car companies are gearing the music in their commercials to you is the day you have to admit you're getting old.
posted by Hoopo at 3:42 PM on December 15, 2010


Hoopo - you mean this Kia ad? I love this execution.
posted by jourman2 at 4:19 PM on December 15, 2010


it saddens me when I see artists so desperate to get their message out that they have to rely on corporate sponsorship

Yes. Because "Ooo, Baby, you so hot you make me wet. fuck me now" is one of those messages which needs vast corporate sponsorship to get it out into the public. It's new, and has never been heard before.
posted by hippybear at 9:54 PM on December 15, 2010


LC if you can't see the difference between taking money from a publishing house and taking money from a corporation seeking a third party endorsement then I doubt we can find common ground in our discussion.

hippybear - huh?
posted by any major dude at 5:17 AM on December 16, 2010


"rather see them take a day job, save up their money, at which time they can make more music detailing the quiet desperation of the common man in America."

I don't think Tindersticks were ever a) interested in doing this b) employable.

Bob Dylan licenced one of his songs to an ad in the UK - I believe this is the only time he's done so, and it was a company with a strong ethical standpoint - are you saying Dylan is therefore artistically bankrupt? It's an extremely sixth-form level argument.

Jona Lewie is in an Ikea ad this year. This makes me happy.
posted by mippy at 7:26 AM on December 16, 2010


Oh, and you can extend the Dylan point to Iggy Pop (car insurance), John Lydon (butter), Suggs (frozen food) and socialist actor Ricky Tomlinson (frozen food).
posted by mippy at 7:29 AM on December 16, 2010


Oh yeah, and Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Shane Meadows and Armando Iannucci have all directed ads. (McDonald's, McDonald's, George at Asda and the Post Office.) Even a pubescent Bill Hicks disciple would struggle to call all these men artistically bankrupt.
posted by mippy at 7:35 AM on December 16, 2010


who do I talk to on the internet to install a Hicks Law that's akin to Godwin's Law? I believe at this point the mere mention of his name should get you immediately disqualified from any discussion regarding artistic integrity.

For the record Dylan also shamelessly shilled for Victoria's Secret. Dylan, Iggy Pop, The Clash etc all deserve 10x more derision because they are the icons apologists like yourself will consistently bring up when your poor struggling indie band follows in their poisoned footsteps, drops their draws to take the money. We live in a capitalist nation and they are breaking no law by selling out but that doesn't mean I have to respect them for it. I'm sure they will lose no sleep knowing I don't respect them, what saddens me is that there are virtually no artists that are outspoken these days on this issue. We have truly evolved into a planet where corporations control every aspect of culture and have generations of children who not only accept it but are falling over themselves to suck their cocks by dreaming about being corporate lawyers and investment bankers. When your dreams are that shallow is it any wonder that you believe corporations and culture can live in harmony?
posted by any major dude at 8:47 AM on December 16, 2010


I actually do see a difference between the two, but not enough to hold musicians to such a radically different bar than every other artist out there. A publishing house is (normally) a corporation, so if you think corporations are "the enemy of progress", dealing with them directly with your product for dissemination versus endorsing the same corporation's other products won't really give you a leg up.

If a band actually has a very anti-corporate, anti-capitalist message, yes, they would be selling out if suddenly they allowed their work to be licensed by the very forces that they decry. If however they make music and aren't activists (or at least aren't anti-corporate activists), then it wouldn't be selling out when they allow their work to be used or (god forbid) actually create work to be used. Unless you think Randy Newman is selling out. Selling out usually infers betraying your previous standards. If they don't share your same (I would say nearly impossible) standards for artists, they don't lack integrity when they license a song to Target. They're just selling, not selling out. You know, like the rest of us with jobs.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:51 AM on December 16, 2010


For the record Dylan also shamelessly shilled for Victoria's Secret.

I was led to understand he'd only licensed to one ad, because I don't know of Victoria's Sectet.

Dylan, Iggy Pop, The Clash etc all deserve 10x more derision because they are the icons apologists like yourself will consistently bring up when your poor struggling indie band follows in their poisoned footsteps, drops their draws to take the money.

I'm no 'apologist' (and Joe Strummer was no starving artist either), just saying that everyone needs the rent and even idealistic directors and musicians will take money from The Man and use it to make art, some of which might well be using The Man's money to make a point against capitalism. Ricky Tomlinson does ads because he likes to donate a lot of money to charity. Armando Iannucci makes political satire with the cash the post office give him, and so on and so forth. 'Selling out' is a facile definition that aims to cut the artistic world into good and bad, and it just doesn't work in the way you'd like.

By the way, none of the bands I've seen live this year can afford to be full-time musicians, with the possible exception of Eddie Argos. Whether they'd choose to soundtrack ads or similar, I don;t know, but I like the idea of a musician I like getting some recompense and a wider audience. Licensing is a funny thing, which is why you'll find the most unlikely of suspects appearing on teen soundtrack albums. And advertising budgets allow young creatives to make cool things with other people's resources and money, which is a good thing. It's a medium, just like books or films, and it can be interesting or crap, just like books or films can be.


We have truly evolved into a planet where corporations control every aspect of culture and have generations of children who not only accept it but are falling over themselves to suck their cocks by dreaming about being corporate lawyers and investment bankers. When your dreams are that shallow is it any wonder that you believe corporations and culture can live in harmony?


Either this is hyperbole or you're really, really not looking hard enough. You sound like a middle-aged man moaning baout how awful the Music Of Today is, based soley on Top 40 radio and what they play in-store in Burtons. Corporations don't control 'every aspect' of culture, you spoon. There are zillions of people making uncommercial things for no money because they really really want to. If you think the Kids of Today are all about sucking corporate cock, then you're hanging out with the wrong kids. (The one corporate banker I know is gay and works hard for the visibility of LGBT individuals in the financial world.) I spent time last year photographing the G8 protests and i would bet you none of the kids at Climate Camp really gave a sod which rock dinosaurs put which single on which ad (FYI most of my generation heard of The Clash thanks to Levis) because, in the scheme of smashing capitalism's excesses, it's almost entirely moot.
posted by mippy at 3:04 PM on December 16, 2010


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